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NewFormat AB

PDF standards make the world work




NewFormat makes PDF information permanently
accessible, searchable, readable and reusable
for the future and for as many people as possible.

We create accessible PDF in compliance with the ISO Standard PDF/UA.


Our solutions are based on
recognized ISO Standards based on PDF technology
and tested, reliable, and highly accessible software solutions from
the PDF Association vendor community.




Accessibility - Icon

Accessible PDF


A fully PDF/UA compliant PDF can be just as
accessible as a WCAG compliant website.




PDF/UA - Icon

Recommended Software Tools to
Tag, Create, Validate and Remediate/Correct PDF files for
Compliance with the ISO Standard 14289, PDF/UA,
for Universally Accessible PDF




    Best approach to create Accessible PDF, direct or indirect?

    In principle, universally accessible PDF documents can either be
    generated directly during document creation, using a suitable program,
    or indirectly generated by adapting an existing PDF document.

    The indirect approach tends to require a great deal of work,
    as all tags and numerous other settings will need to be provided manually.

    This work can also become void as soon as a new version of the PDF document
    replaces the old one, if any changes to the document’s content need to be made.
    The adaptation process must then be started again from scratch.

    The direct approach is almost always the better option;
    post-creation PDF edits should be avoided or at least kept to a minimum.
    Either way, it is essential that the document creation program can perform
    the functions required and that the document creator can make use of them.




Warning - Icon

    Why not solely use the well-known software tools
    Microsoft Office, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Acrobat,...
    to create, validate or read Accessible PDF?

    It is not the assistive technologies, nor popular software tools such as
    MS Office, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Acrobat, Google Docs, Apple iWork,...
    or screen readers like JAWS, NVDA, MS Narrator, Apple VoiceOver,...
    that define what is an accessible PDF.

    A PDF document is defined as "accessible PDF" only when it
    meets the ISO Standard PDF/UA with guidelines!


    Currently, the above mentioned software tools, which are used by many
    to create and edit PDF documents, are not sufficiently "PDF/UA-Ready";
    they lack the ability to always correctly export a final PDF document
    according to PDF/UA and they do not validate well enough to
    comply with the PDF/UA standard.

    The exported PDF file thus risks not being "accessible PDF" nor meet
    accessibility requirements under the EU Web Accessibility Directive or
    the Swedish Act on Accessibility to Digital Public Services for everyone!


    Just because you tag a PDF document with Adobe Acrobat or MS Office
    and the file then pass the test with

    • Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Checker, or with

    • Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker

    the PDF file can still have severe accessibility errors,
    especially if the file contains data tables or other complex structures.

    So do not expect too much of these software tools at the moment.


    This also explains why most PDF files created with solely these software tools
    do not meet the technical requirements for accessible PDF:




    Time is money! - Invest in "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools

    The process to build accessible documents is far from always straightforward.

    To quickly make something barrier-free by pressing a few buttons
    in your ordinary software tool do not usually lead to a successful result.

    Strive to minimize the time using software tools that
    can not natively export PDF/UA compliant documents.

    The part you do in Adobe InDesign or MS Office is like
    pouring the foundation of a house:
    It’s a critical first step, but there’s a lot more work ahead
    (in the form of what is called "PDF remediation") before the job is done.

    For this reason, third-party tools and services are available to ease the process.

    So, instead of spending endless hours with substandard software tools,
    invest a small amount in complementary aids and software tools
    that are "PDF/U-Ready".

    By using "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools, you significantly shorten
    the working time to create accessible PDF.


    Tricky use case: Complex data tables

    All tables, even complex data tables
    (tables with multi-column headers and multi-row headers)
    can be designed to be accessible tables in PDF documents.

    A typical use case where native Adobe InDesign fails
    is tagging of complex data tables.

    As of today, Adobe InDesign can not natively export PDF/UA compliant files.
    Adobe's recommendation is to first export the PDF-file out of InDesign,
    and then in a follow-on step undertake required post-processing fixes in
    the PDF-file with Adobe Acrobat Pro DC to make the file PDF/UA compliant.

    In theory complex data tables could be tagged in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC,
    but it is in practise a cumbersome and very time-consuming process and
    requires and consumes an unreasonable number of working hours of your time.


    Only a few software tools offer in-built and out of the box
    support for tagging of complex data tables in minutes,
    or at least with less effort, and thereafter export of PDF/UA
    compliant documents, in a significantly shorter time:





    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools

    Regardless of what software tool you prefer to use to create accessible PDF,
    make sure you really understand how the tool works,
    because then it’s more flexible and you will get the most out of it.

    Make sure you prepare your source document correctly
    because then the exported PDF is going to be pretty accessible.

    Questions to ask yourself:

    • Do I really understand how the software tool works?

    • Did I create my document the way the software tool was intended?

    • Did I use the tool the right way?

    • Did I use styles?

    • Did I use tables to layout my three column layout
      rather than actual columns?

    • ...and other related questions


    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools has the ability to verify/confirm PDF/UA
    conformance based on the Matterhorn Protocol's set of checks.



    It is also required that you understand and can apply
    requirements for checkpoints and tags according to
    the PDF/UA standard

    However, to correctly create accessible PDF more is required
    than just "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools.

    It is also required that you understand and can apply
    requirements for checkpoints and tags according to
    the PDF/UA standard.

    The reality is that PDF remediation isn’t quick, easy, or straightforward.
    It also requires skill, knowledge, and experience on your part
    in remediating the PDF file.

    The more knowledge you have, the more you know about the process,
    the easier the process becomes.


Recommended (indispensable) reading for you who want to
know more about how to practically create an accessible PDF.

Book: "Create Accessible PDF Documents,
The Practical Hands-On Manual For Everyday Work"

Book: Barrierefrei PDF-Dokumente estellen, Das Praxishandbuch für den Arbeitsalltag, Front Cover - Picture

The main aim of this book is to enable all readers to
create barrier-free documents independently and
as effectively as possible from the usual creation programs.

This includes knowing what an accessible PDF is and
how to prepare your content accordingly,
planning production processes and detailed practical implementation
in the various programs.

Includes a lot of examples and valuable checklists for implementation in
Adobe InDesign and Microsoft Office/LibreOffice.

The book is available to order from dpunkt.verlag

Note! Only available in German


    Does the necessary work effort feel overwhelming?

    Anything you can use to streamline the process
    can significantly change your workflow for the better.

    An individual user can probably manually create and manage
    a certain limited number of PDF documents, depending on
    the number of pages and complexity.

    In case of need to create and maintain many hundreds or even
    thousands of documents, we highly recommend the use of
    solutions that do support large-scale production and
    automated workflow processes.



    Does the necessary work effort feel overwhelming?
    Then we recommend:






    Tools for creating tags in source files and PDF documents

    Software tools with the ability to create tagged PDF documents
    with semantically appropriate structure elements from
    a source file or existing untagged PDF.


    Tagging of PDF documents for compliance with PDF/UA-1.
    Recommended guides on to how to correctly tag
    PDF documents according to PDF/UA-1:


    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools for TAGGING of PDF documents / Tagged PDF:

    • axaio MadeToTag for Adobe InDesign

    • Plugin to Adobe InDesign. For Windows and macOS.
      Creates tags according to the PDF/UA Standard.
      Significantly speeds up the tagging work in Adobe InDesign!


    • axesWord for MS Word

    • Plugin to MS Word for Windows.
      Creates tags according to the PDF/UA Standard.
      Facilitates the tagging process based on templates.


    • CommonLook Office for MS Word and MS PowerPoint

    • Plugin to MS Office for Windows.
      Creates tags according to the PDF/UA Standard.
      Facilitates the tagging process.


    • CommonLook Dynamic

    • For Windows.
      Creates tags according to the PDF/UA Standard.
      Automatically tags and generates accessible PDF from
      print streams and live data/databases.





    Tools for creating accessible PDF according to the PDF/UA standard

    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools with the ability to create PDF documents
    conforming to PDF/UA (ISO 14289-1:2014).


    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools for CREATING accessible PDF according to ISO PDF/UA:

    • axaio MadeToTag for Adobe InDesign

    • Plugin to Adobe InDesign. For Windows and macOS.
      No need for revision / post-processing in Adobe Acrobat!
      Creates PDF files compliant with ISO PDF/UA and PDF/A-2a.


    • axesWord for MS Word

    • Plugin to MS Word for Windows.
      Creates PDF files compliant with ISO PDF/UA and PDF/A-2a.


    • CommonLook Office for MS Word and MS PowerPoint

    • Plugin to MS Office for Windows.
      Creates PDF files compliant with
      ISO PDF/UA, WCAG 2.0, U.S. Section 508 and/or U.S. HHS.


    • CommonLook PDF

    • Plugin to Adobe Acrobat for Windows.
      Creates PDF files compliant with
      ISO PDF/UA, WCAG 2.0/2.1, U.S. Section 508 and/or U.S. HHS.


    • CommonLook Dynamic

    • For Windows.
      Automatically tags and generates accessible PDF from
      print streams and live data/databases.
      Creates PDF files compliant with
      ISO PDF/UA, WCAG 2.0/2.1, U.S. 508 and/or U.S. HHS.





    Tools for remediation/correction of inaccessible PDF
    to accessible PDF according to the PDF/UA standard

    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools with the ability to remediate/correct
    the logical structure tree of a tagged PDF file.


    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools for REMEDIATING/CORRECTING inaccessible PDF
    to be in compliance with ISO PDF/UA, thus being accessible PDF:

    • axesPDF

    • Extended/professional version of PAC for Windows.
      Corrects any existing PDF for compliance with ISO PDF/UA.


    • callas pdfaPilot

    • For Windows and macOS.
      callas pdfaPilot can resolve some common problems related to PDF/UA files;
      "Resolve structural problems with tagged PDF documents".


    • callas pdfToolbox

    • For Windows and macOS.
      callas pdfToolbox can resolve some common problems related to PDF/UA files;
      "Resolve structural problems with tagged PDF documents".


    • CommonLook PDF

    • Extended/professional version of CommonLook PDF Validator.
      Plugin to Adobe Acrobat for Windows.
      Corrects for compliance with
      ISO PDF/UA, WCAG 2.0/2.1, U.S. Section 508 and/or U.S. HHS.





    Tools for validation of PDF-files for
    compliance with the PDF/UA standard

    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools with the ability to verify/confirm PDF/UA
    conformance based on the Matterhorn Protocol's set of checks.


    A PDF document’s degree of accessibility is hard to determine at first glance.
    How, then, can you tell if and to what extent a PDF file meets
    the requirements of PDF/UA?

    A reliable compliance test always depends on at least two stages of validation:

    1. a programmatic syntactic test,
      which can be performed by a piece of software, and

    2. an interactive semantic test, manually carried out by a human.

    Dedicated validation/accessibility checker/test tools help the user
    to perform the programmatic syntactic test.

    They test and show the extent to which the PDF document meets
    the standard’s purely technical requirements (including requirements
    for tag-based document structuring of document title, headings,
    paragraphs, columns, tables, alternative text for images, etc...)
    and uses the correct syntax to implement them.

    For programmatic PDF/UA and WCAG compliance validation of a PDF document,
    we recommend to validate the document with more than one test tool.


    Note! Passing the programmatic syntactic test with an accessibility checker
    is only the beginning of ensuring a document is accessible.


    The semantic aspects of PDF/UA, however,
    cannot be tested in the same way:

    • Is the reading order logical?

    • Does the alternative text adequately represent the same
      information as the images to which it is attached?

    • Do the header tags reflect their corresponding header levels?

    These and other questions can only be answered after
    evaluation and testing by a human user.
    Both PDF/UA and WCAG always requires human interaction;
    an interactive semantic test, manually carried out by a human.


    One further test (which should be run on at least a random
    sample of all documents created) is to use the PDF document
    with a selection of current types of assistive technology.

    Regular users of the technology can be enlisted to test
    the documents in this way; in most cases, however,
    anyone can in principle perform a useful test with assistive
    technology to confirm the readability of the PDF document.

    One very simple option here is to use the free
    Windows screen reader program NVDA.
    A user can quickly get to grips with the core functions of
    the software in order to test how well people with disabilities can
    actually use an existing (ideally fully PDF/UA-compliant) document.


    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools for VALIDATING
    accessible PDF according to ISO PDF/UA:

    • PDF Accessibility Checker (PAC)

    • No cost. For Windows.
      Quick check of PDF file for compliance with ISO PDF/UA
      and applicable parts of WCAG 2.1 AA recommendations.
      Also performs automatic color contrast control.


    • axesPDF

    • Extended/professional version of PAC for Windows.
      Validates any existing PDF for compliance with ISO PDF/UA.


    • callas pdfaPilot

    • For Windows and macOS.
      The feature for validation of PDF/UA compliance
      can be used without cost without cost.


    • callas pdfToolbox

    • For Windows and macOS.
      The feature for validation of PDF/UA compliance
      can be used without cost without cost.


    • CommonLook PDF Validator

    • No cost plugin to Adobe Acrobat for Windows.
      First fast way to validate a PDF file for compliance with
      ISO PDF/UA, WCAG 2.0/2.1, U.S. Section 508 and/or U.S. HHS.


    • CommonLook PDF

    • Extended/professional version of CommonLook PDF Validator.
      Plugin to Adobe Acrobat for Windows.
      Validates for compliance with
      ISO PDF/UA, WCAG 2.0/2.1, U.S. Section 508 and/or U.S. HHS.


    • CommonLook Clarity

    • For Windows.
      Continually monitors websites, internal networks,
      files systems and folders, and maps the status of accessible PDF.
      Generates reports showing compliance with valid accessibility standards,
      such as ISO PDF/UA, W3C/WCAG 2.0 AA, WCAG 2.1 AA,
      U.S. Section 508 and U.S. HHS.


    • veraPDF

    • Open source project.
      Validates for compliance with ISO PDF/UA (Machine Check).




    Tools for quick viewing/reading of
    the tagging structure in PDF files

    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools with the ability of product that includes
    an end-user-oriented interactive PDF (or PDF-alternative) viewer that
    uses tagged PDF to make PDF/UA files available to Assistive Technology.


    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools for VIEWING and READING
    the tagging structure in PDF files, and assistive technologies
    such as PDF reading tools and screen reading tools:




    Tools for contrast checking

    • Adobe Contrast Checker

    • Free to use online-tool testing the contrast of your
      background and text for visual accessibility.
      Checks the contrast ratio of your background and text colors,
      and compare to WCAG.


    • Adobe Color Blind Safe Checker

    • Free to use online-tool checking your color scheme and
      simulating what the colors look like to color blind individuals,
      warning you if colors are too close together.


    • WebAIM Contrast Checker

    • Free to use online-tool testing the contrast of your
      background and text for accessibility.
      You can use it to check if your website design
      are in compliance with W3C/WCAG.

      WCAG 2.0 level AA requires a contrast ratio of at least
      4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text.

      WCAG 2.1 requires a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 for
      graphics and user interface components
      (such as form input borders).

      WCAG Level AAA requires a contrast ratio of at least
      7:1 for normal text and 4.5:1 for large text.

      Large text is defined as 14 point (typically 18.66px)
      and bold or larger, or 18 point (typically 24px) or larger.


    • Monsido Online Color Contrast Checker

    • Free to use online-tool testing the contrast of your
      background and text for accessibility.
      You can use it to visualize different color combination palettes
      for your website design that are in compliance with
      W3C/WCAG, EU directive, and ADA standards.


    • TPGi Colour Contrast Analyser (CCA)

    • For Windows and macOS.
      No cost Colour Contrast Analyser (CCA) from TPGi
      that allows you to easily determine the contrast ratio of
      two colors simply using an eyedrop tool.





    Tools for mapping of existing business documents
    for compliance with accessibility standards

    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools with the ability to continuously and
    automatically monitor and map/report existing enterprise-wide
    document resources and their accessibility status.


    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools for automatic mapping of
    accessibility status for large volumes (bulks) of existing PDF files:

    • CommonLook Clarity

    • For Windows.
      Continually monitors websites, internal networks, files systems and folders.
      Automatically maps and validates all PDF documents with respect to
      compliance with applicable accessibility standards.

      Generates reports showing compliance with accessibility standards
      such as ISO PDF/UA, W3C/WCAG 2.0 AA, WCAG 2.1 AA,
      U.S. Section 508 and U.S. HHS.




    Tools for businesses that need automated production of
    large quantities of PDF/UA compliant files

    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools with the ability to continuously and
    automatically produce large volumes of accessible PDF documents
    from live data/databases.


    "PDF/UA-Ready" software tools for automatic production of PDF/UA
    compliant documents in large volumes from live data/databases.

    • CommonLook Dynamic

    • For Windows.
      Automatically tags and generates accessible PDF from
      print streams and live data/databases.
      Creates PDF files compliant with accessibility standards
      such as ISO PDF/UA, WCAG 2.0/2.1, U.S. 508 and/or U.S. HHS.




PDF/UA - Icon

Recommended Reading on PDF/UA
The ISO Standard for Accessible PDF Documents and Forms

PDF/UA in a Nutshell - Front Cover - Picture     PDF/UA Flyer Front Cover - Picture

(For download of these guides, click on the pictures above)



Lifebuoy - Picture

    Do you need help to create accessible PDF in compliance with PDF/UA?

    Accessible PDF (PDF/UA) ensures accessibility to digital public service for everyone.

    We help customers to create any volume of accessible PDF documents,
    out of native MS Office (Word and PowerPoint) and Adobe InDesign documents,
    and PDF documents generated by other tools.


    Interesting?




More Information and Resources

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Warning - Icon

Warning for Inaccessible PDF!

PDF/UA Foundation - PAC PDF/UA Check - Error - Does not comply with PDF/UA - Not an accessible PDF - Banner



For more information contact NewFormat


NewFormat AB

Smörblommegränd 14, SE-165 72 Hässelby (Stockholm), Sweden
tel:+46 (0)70 631 53 01

All content © copyright 2008-2022 NewFormat AB. All rights reserved.
All product names, trademarks and registered trademarks
are property of their respective owners.



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